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Habs Need Culture Change ASAP. Can That Happen With Ducharme?



Montreal Canadiens

Make no mistake, the Montreal Canadiens are in need of a culture change and fast.

While new general manager Kent Hughes continues to preach patience and presents a calculated approach, more than one source has confirmed to Montreal Hockey Now that the back-to-back blowout losses to the Edmonton Oilers (7-2) on Saturday and to the Columbus Blue Jackets (6-3) on Sunday night have left Hughes and executive vice president Jeff Gorton wondering if the Habs Hockey Ops duo is about to change course and fast?

“They might need to make a move soon or even ASAP!”

So is that move what the media and Montreal Canadiens fans are speculating comes first, a Jeff Petry trade?

“Not necessarily,” the source said.

While this source would not confirm directly if he was referring to a coaching change, he replied:

“You saw what happened Saturday and the way Ducharme responded to that lack of effort comment, read between the lines. They’re worried the kids won’t develop right with losing being justified.”

If you missed it, following the 7-2 loss to the Oilers on Saturday night, Sportsnet reporter Eric Engels asked Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme what he thought of effort from his players being “below standard” in another blowout loss?

“So the effort was below standard tonight?” Ducharme replied rhetorically. “No, if we start the game and we look at it, we had a plan. McDavid didn’t have a point, we did a good job there. We gave up 24 shots, 12 scoring chances. If you told me that this morning, I would’ve said I think we have a good chance of winning.”



As Engels pointed out, by no means do the Montreal Canadiens expect to go on a record win streak and get back into the playoff hunt. They know there are plenty of more losses ahead but what’s key is that they develop a culture where they won’t accept losing and maintain higher team morale.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher returned to the lineup Sunday after not playing for ten days thanks to a nagging lower-body injury. Gallagher had practised a few times with his teammates before returning to game action for the game Sunday night. The Canadiens alternate captain was clearly disturbed by the culture on the bench and the ice that he returned to.

“Losing’s not easy,” Gallagher said after his first game back. “Obviously, expectations are different right now than they were coming into the season or any other season. It doesn’t change the fact that you want to win hockey games. It’s frustrating.  You want to be able to leave the rink feeling good about yourself and when you’re losing you’re searching for solutions, and it’s not there. But we’re going to keep working, keep trying to find that environment. The one thing you can never lose is your culture. The minute losing feels normal or you’re numb to losing, you’re probably playing the wrong sport.”


So now, Hughes and Gorton appear to be wondering if that culture change needs to occur faster than originally planned and if Ducharme is the coach to get that process jump-started? Make no mistake that they are sympathetic to the Murphy’s Law cloud that has hung over this team with COVID and injuries to key players but justifying humiliating losses publicly isn’t shielding your players from criticism, it’s enabling the mentality that losing is OK.


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